Judicial Funding Cuts Inflict Widespread Economic Harm in Communities

ABA Journal News: Savings produced by court budget cuts are exceeded by harmful economic effects (white paper)

The white paper, “The Economics of Justice,” by Eric J. Magnuson, Steven M. Puiszis, Lisa M. Agrimonti, and Nicole S. Frank (DRI, 2014)

Press release: “DRI White Paper: Judicial Funding Cuts Inflict Widespread Economic Harm in Communities

“…. Salaries make up as much as 96 percent of court budgets, the white paper says. Budget cuts result in job losses, diminished tax revenues for local governments, and the increased expense of unemployment benefits.

Cuts also slow resolution of civil cases. The uncertainty caused by pending cases makes businesses reluctant to spend money on equipment, additional employees and expanded product lines, which also affects the local economy, the paper concludes.

The Florida study, for example, concluded that the backlog in foreclosure cases caused by underfunding of the state court system resulted in a $9.9 billion annual loss to the state’s economy in direct costs, and an additional $7.2 billion in indirect costs.’ [Link to full ABA news story and White Paper.]

Promoting Access to Justice with Oregon State Bar E-Books (on Amazon)

Oregon State Bar: Promoting Access to Justice with E-Books

The OSB Legal Publications department launched a new project in May that we wanted to tell you about. We have begun offering a series of Family Law e-books on Amazon.com. These e-books include information on how to find and hire a lawyer, as well as links to information about the OSB Lawyer Referral Service, legal aid services in Oregon, and the ABA page on lawyer referral services nationwide….” [Link to full 6/27/14 blogpost.]

New Roles for Non-Lawyers to Increase Access to Justice

Richard Zorza & David Udell Article: New Roles for Non-Lawyers to Increase Access to Justice

You can also link to this article from the SRLN website or from Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice blog, where you will be able to find dozens, hundreds, of other practical and provocative articles on Access to Justice issues.

Make the Most of Your Time in Oregon Small Claims Court

The Clackamas Review wrote a great story about our small claims court programs generally (see video) and the Clackamas County Small Claims Court Program specifically!

“Make the most of your time in small-claims court,” by Raymond Rendleman, Clackamas Review, June 9, 2014

Excerpt: “Jennifer Dalglish, the Clackamas County law librarian is dedicated to providing equal access to legal information and legal-research assistance to all citizens, so she is always looking for new and improved ways to do so.

When Laura Orr, the Washington County law librarian, created the small-claims presentation in Washington and Multnomah counties, she reached out and asked if Clackamas County like to host the program too.

Since Dalglish and Oregon City Library Director Maureen Cole had been talking about collaborating on a program for some time, they thought this was the perfect opportunity. Small-claims court is an especially interesting and relevant area of law for everyone – legal professionals and general citizens alike. Since attorneys rarely represent clients in small claims court, there is a great need for information in this area….” [Link to full article.]

Hilarious (and Dark) Side of Automated Court Services: Replacing Courts with Websites

Link from Richard Zorza’s inimitable Access to Justice blog: A Cautionary Tale — Cartoon Points Out the Downsides of Automated Courts

Access to justice and court systems broken (and broke)?

If our courts are broke, how can Californians get divorced? An idea,” by Ted Rall:

Excerpt: “Opinion: If our courts are broke, how can Californians get divorced? An idea….

…. We need a better way. No, not a bigger budget: that would solve the problem and reduce unemployment.

No, what we need is to automate the court system! There are, after all, algorithm-based lie detectors that determine whether you’re telling the truth by analyzing a scan of your face. Since California’s courts handle millions of cases each year, a huge database of precedents can be uploaded and used as a basis to help determine the outcome of new and future matters. And we already know from last year’s trouble-free launch of Obamacare that the Internet is the perfect tool for replacing old-fashioned human-based bureaucracies.

What could go wrong?” [Link to cartoon and commentary.]

Legal Forms: “LegalZoom Gets Nod from South Carolina Supreme Court”

The Legal Forms Problem bedevils most states, even those with active statewide Access to Justice Commissions (Oregon does not have one). Some states are tackling the legal forms problem head on with gusto and with Statewide Legal Forms Committees (see also the legal forms program presentations at the ABA Equal Justice website – there was an excellent one a couple weeks ago on the Washington State Legal Forms initiative).

See the ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives and the Access to Justice blog for information and news about these A2J commissions and initiatives.

From 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, 4/22/14, post: “LegalZoom Gets Nod from South Carolina Supreme Court”

Excerpt: “The term “Access to Justice” (A2J) is tossed around a lot in the legal world, but as the old saying goes, talk is cheap. It is common for state bar associations to step up and use another phrase to shoot down A2J projects or non-lawyers’ attempt to fill a gap in the legal process that is underserved. In most cases, it is seen as a ploy to protect the Bar Association’s members… at the expense of those needing help with a complicated legal system. One of the most contentious issues is on basic legal forms. Companies like LegalZoom have stepped in to create forms for the individual citizen, and have found many states are very reluctant in approving of their products and services.

This morning, LegalZoom launched a press release that announced that the South Carolina Supreme Court approved of their business model and that its services of providing legal forms for individual citizens to use is not the unauthorized practice of law….” [Link to full blog post.]

The Oregon public law librarian view: Legal Forms Pyramid

Oregon Innocence Project (and April 9th Benefit and Launch Party)

Oregon Innocence Project:

The Oregon Innocence Project (OIP) is a joint project of the Oregon Justice Resource Center (an independent nonprofit based out of Lewis & Clark Law School) and Metropolitan Public Defender whose mission is to (1) exonerate the innocent, (2) educate and train law students, and (3) promote legal reforms aimed at preventing wrongful convictions….” [Link to the OIP.]

The Oregon Innocence Project Launch and Benefit Party, April 9, 2014

Featured Speaker:
Barry Scheck, Co-founder and Co-Director of the national Innocence Project

Special Guests:
Exoneree and former NFL player Brian Banks
Secretary of State Kate Brown
The Honorable Paul De Muniz
Best selling author Phillip Margolin
Civil rights attorney Elden Rosenthal
Oregon State Rep. Jennifer Williamson


Access to Justice: The Center, the Conference, the Index, the Blog

The Center: National Center for Access to Justice

The Conference: Equal Justice Conference (Portland, Oregon, April 30-May 3, 2014) (there is a Self-Represented Litigation Network Educational Program on Wednesday, April 30 (8:30am-5:30pm).)

The Index: Justice Index

The BlogAccess to Justice Blog (Richard Zorza’s extraordinary compilation of A2J resources and news. And read the Kennedy-Katzenbach statement from 50 years ago on access to justice)

There’s more: See what many states are doing on the A2J front (and I’ll be adding great information about the Michigan Legal Help program to this list).

How Does Oregon Rank in the (Access to) Justice Index

Visit the Justice Index beta site for preliminary findings.

Note: access to justice is different from access to courts – and then there is access to affordable legal assistance.

1) You’ve just been charged with DUII.
2) You are a small business owner, or want to start a small business, and need to know about how, or if, to incorporate.
3) Your son who is in jail needs to know how to pay his child support.
4) You are a self-represented litigant and want to know how to ask a question about a court procedure.
5) You just found out your “husband” was married when he “married” you – after you moved here from another country.
6) Your college kid’s landlord just sued for back rent.
7) Your local law librarian advised you to talk to a lawyer before renting out that room in your house.
8) Your local law librarian recommended you talk to a lawyer before evicting that person who is renting out that room in your house.

There’s more! Lots, and lots, and lots more. But you get my drift.

Equal Justice Conference (Portland, Oregon, April 30-May 3, 2014)

The American Bar Association’s  Equal Justice Conference (EJC) 2014 will be held in Portland, Oregon.

You may register for a pre-conference session for $75, without having to register for the entire EJC conference!

Among other EJC and pre-conference programs, there is one for Access to Justice (A2J) professionals, public law librarians, and those who are interested public law library or public library legal reference services and A2J (access to justice) issues:

Self-Represented Litigation Network Educational Program, Wednesday, April 30 (8:30am-5:30pm)

EJC links:

1) Equal Justice Conference (ABA) 2014, Portland, Oregon

2) Access to Justice blog post about the Self-Represented Litigation Network Pre-Conference in Portland

If you want to attend the pre-conference program, please complete the registration form and send it to:

Erin Wellin, CMP
Meetings & Committee Specialist, Legal Services Division
American Bar Association; 321 N Clark St.; Chicago, IL 60654
T: 312.988.5756


Oregon public and public law library A2J resources can be found at the Washington County Law Library website, e.g.:

1) Oregon public libraries and A2J resources

2) Public Law Libraries: Selected Readings on Legal Reference, Self-Represented Litigants, Limited Scope Legal Assistance, Law Clinics, Civil Gideon, Lawyers in Libraries, and related Public Law Library Issues